Buying Guide: Best Car Seat Models and Features
From birth, we want to surround our children with the best possible environment to grow in, one that is safe, nurturing, and can allow them to grow into healthy adults. One of the very first circumstances that we actually have control over, is their first trip home(and every trip after that), where we tuck them into a car seat specifically made to secure them and keep them comfortable.
When it comes to car seats, there are many makes, models, and varieties. Technically a car seat can include booster seats too, but I think they deserve their own category, so when I talk about these I am specifically referring to extended rear facing/convertable, and infant models. More or less, the styles that you used(or should have used) to bring your newborn baby home. Going through these models and determining which one is best can be a chore however, and you shouldn’t be expected to know what to look for on your own. Luckily, I’ve done the leg work for you and have quite a few recommendations of the best car seats, but if your diligent enough to do your own leg work I have an awesome guide at the bottom that you can use at your own discretion, to help you make your buying decisions easier.
Types of Seats
When it comes to newborns and their first year, they are extremely vulnerable to impacts, and require special care while transporting. To accomplish this, you only have two options, infant car seats(or carryall’s), and
convertible car seats. Whichever you choose, you can’t really go wrong if safety is your main concern, its their other differing attributes which should sway you on the style.
Infant Models: Infant models, or carryall’s are considered the most convenient style for the first four to six months of a babies life. This is because they can easily transition from car seat, to a stroller, or simply a cradle which you can take on an outing. In fact, there are many travel system strollers which are designed particularly with this in mind.
Convertible Models: A convertible car seat can also be an economical purchase, if not a convenient purchase, because it can adjust into three different positions which secure your child for the length of their growing process. Looking very much like a normal infant model, they can then be turned around and adjusted to face forward once your little one reaches about 40 pounds, and then finally into a type of booster seat once they reach around 60 pounds. After they reach 100 pounds and close to 5 feet, they can then be removed all together.
Like anything that you buy for your baby, you need to take every measure possible to ensure that they are safe and secure. This means going above and beyond simply looking for faults in the products, such as choking hazards and material which will cause irritation, but design flaws as well. Here are some of the attributes to keep an eye on.
The Harness: Every car seat that you should consider has to come with a 5 point harness, or your going with an inferior design. Although rare, there are still several car seats on the market, some pretty popular in fact, that come with a T-clip harness or a three point harness. These are considerably less safe than 5 point harnesses, which go over both shoulders and hips and has its chest clip higher up. So why the extra strap? During frontal or rear impacts, a 3 point and t-clip do a comparable job to the 5 point, but in side to side impacts, they offer little protection.
Weight and Height Limits: Another attribute which should not be ignored, are the limitations to weight and height that come recommended in every owners manual. Pay close attention to these, as most car seats can safely accommodate weight ranging from 20 to 30 pounds, but once you get higher than that car seats become more rare, and you will have to begin searching for a booster seat.
The height of your little one is also something that needs to be considered. Most seats will accommodate a height in the lower 30’s, but if your child grows taller than that it can get a bit cumbersome. This is easy to manage, just keep an eye on them and if their head comes within an inch to the top of the car seat, its time to upgrade or find a more accommodating model.
Rebound Prevention: If you’ve ever been in a moderate to serious accident, you will have noticed that there is a “rebound” which occurs from the reverbing of your body shifting forward. Babies and their car seats are in the same boat, and the reverbing action can injure without some sort of mechanism in place to prevent it.. Most infant car seats have a design which cushions the blow of this rebound by swiveling in a downward direction from the top, and afterwards popping back up. Other seats have an anti-rebound bar near the bottom, which reduces the force of the rebound.